12 Best Employee Recognition Ideas For You

12 Best Employee Recognition Ideas in 2024

We all love the recognition for our efforts. Do you remember the last time someone appreciates your work — it stuck in your mind and meant something, didn’t it? But if we talk about employee recognition, it is not about only making people feel good. It has a notable impact on key business metrics, including engagement, retention, and productivity.

Stats show that “lack of recognition” is the third most prevalent reason employees leave their job, and 26 percent of employees think that they are underrated and underappreciated is the most significant barrier to engagement. 

Organizations require to carefully customize their recognition efforts and make them significant to their employees. Here are a few employee recognition ideas that you can use to appreciate their efforts. 

12 Best Employee Recognition Ideas

1. Emphasize that leaders must practice recognition

Emphasize that leaders must practice recognition

Appreciation or recognition from leaders boosts employee confidence and fosters positive behaviour by setting an example. Like, 

  • Serve as an example by recognizing employees frequently.
  • Publicly recognize team members by hosting company-wide meetings.
  • Advocate for a culture of recognition in your daily interactions and meetings with leadership.
  • Practice both monetary and social recognition.

Recognition from leadership is very crucial in times of difficulty. For this purpose, you can even use Performance review phrases, as they will help in starting conversations and ensuring your message is delivered clearly. Words of positivity, support, and thankfulness for team efforts to help employees focus on moving forward.

2. Use a points-based rewards system.

 Use a points-based rewards system.


The point system is the most common idea that you value your employees as individuals by allowing them to select rewards that matter most to them. Consolidating points into a single system will enable employees to get a significant balance, which raises excitement as the points increase.

When available, employees can redeem their points for a reward they need, rather than getting another generic mug or an award that they don’t know what to do with. Employees will be able to combine their meaningful rewards with their contributions and value to the company. Even you can go for an employee referral program to reward them.

3. Promote peer-to-peer recognition culture

 Promote peer-to-peer recognition culture

Recognition from associates is as important as being recognized by leadership. Peer-to-peer recognition builds employee engagement and creates a positive company culture. Research reveals that peer-to-peer recognition can heighten employee performance by as much as 14 per cent. It also encourages a sense of connection, belonging, and well-being. Here are some ideas for incorporating peer-to-peer recognition into the workplace:

  • Make sure that all employees participate in your recognition program, whether they’re on the move, in the office, or working remotely.
  • Incorporate peer participation in employee recognition celebrations. Whether it’s a service anniversary or personal achievement, help peers comment and be a part of the event. And consider digital celebration cards that all team members can sign and customize with a special message of appreciation.
  • It is simple for employees to recognize a peer for good work or simply live their values, talent, and appreciation is the foundation for great company cultures. As per the Brandon Hall Group’s recent report, organizations that determine their culture of recognition highly are:
    • 3 times more likely to have an improved employee retention rate.
    • 5 times more likely to view increased employee engagement
    • 2.25 times more likely to provide frequent recognition
    • 79 percent more likely to give their employer brand a high rating.

To start including employee recognition ideas into your culture, make peer-to-peer, team, manager, and leadership recognition a regular occurrence. The report also found that companies that appreciate employees multiple times a month are 41% more likely to see enhanced employee retention and 34% more likely to see increased engagement.

4. Show appreciation no matter where your employees are

 Show appreciation no matter where your employees are

In today’s scenario, most employees are working remotely, and usually, when they are out of sight, they are often neglected when it comes to showing appreciation. But it’s equally important to recognize these off-site and mobile workers as they tend to be the most at risk for feeling disconnected and unengaged.

Thus, as an employer, it’s your duty that your recognition and rewards program includes all employees, including those working remotely, travelling for business, and on leave.

5. Celebrate important milestones

Celebrate important milestones

It is one of the best employee recognition ideas. Today, it becomes imperative to take recognition beyond work anniversaries. In today’s time, it is still meaningful to show appreciation for employee loyalty.

Work anniversaries accompanied years of memories, experiences, and relationships, so recognition should also be extraordinary. We all love Luxury items.

Therefore they are always appreciated, and you can make it personal by enabling employees to choose a gift they need and want. Personalization strategy works well in this scenario as adding a thanks note from the CEO or personalized recognition will make the occasion and gift far more memorable.

Digital celebration cards are a great idea for recognizing milestones as well, as they allow all team members to sign and add a fun GIF to say congratulations easily.

6. Recognize personal achievements

Recognize personal achievements

The best recognition programs go beyond rewarding employees for reaching milestones; they focus on encouraging frequent appreciation for personal achievements both on and off the job.

These might include reaching a goal, completing a task, learning a new skill, collaborating well with a teammate, hitting a quota, and more. To identify the achievements that mean the most to your team members, think about your business and what your employees strive for, then incorporate an appreciation for everyday tasks and exceptional achievements that drive results.

You can also incorporate recognition for personal accomplishments outside of the workplace, like health and wellness goals, to demonstrate that you value your employees as individuals, not merely for their performance at work.

7. Incentivize professional growth

Incentivize professional growth

New career opportunities are the preferred form of recognition of 59 per cent of employees. Providing this type of recognition is essential to let employees know that your organization notices and appreciates their professional excellence.

It also reinforces key behaviours like continuous learning and encourages employees to grow with your company over the long term. This doesn’t have to mean a promotion — providing new responsibilities or more autonomy are great ways to reward professional progress as well.

Providing other types of career-based rewards also shows that you’re invested in your team’s success. Make sure to recognize professional accomplishments publicly as well so all team members can see your organization’s commitment to career development.

8. Provide gifts and treats to say thanks

provide gifts and treats to say thanks

Often it’s the small things that mean the most, like the coworker who brings in donuts unsolicited on Friday morning, or the boss that hands out power bars on a busy afternoon. These simple acts of generosity show kindness, appreciation, and respect.

Many organizations now stock the company pantry with snacks and drinks, which is great for employee morale. But these should not replace the occasional surprise treat that says thank you simply and unexpectedly.

The occasionally shared experience is also an excellent way to show appreciation and encourage collaboration. Take the team for lunch and invite a key leader to show appreciation.

A team event like an escape room adds some fun and highlights individual skills and knowledge. And don’t let employee appreciation day go unnoticed. Research some creative ways to mark the event and consider extending the celebration to last a full week.

9. Pass around a moving trophy

Moving recognition trophies might seem old school, but they’re still a great way to enhance team spirit and drive the right behaviours. Start by defining the award criteria — it can be anything from business metrics to peer nominations — and select a trophy, serious or silly, depending on what works best for your culture.

Then determine how often the trophy should be awarded and organize a little event each time an individual or team wins it, so everyone can share in the celebration.

10. Empower employees by making them boss for a day

Empowering employees to take on more challenging responsibilities by making them “boss for the day” demonstrates not only trust but investment in their long-term career opportunities.

They may even gain a different perspective on the organization and appreciation for the critical role that leadership plays. To avoid confusion, ensure that other teammates understand that the role is temporary.

Be sure to ask for insights afterwards as well. Employees may have a unique perspective to share and will feel that their thoughts and voices matter.

11. Send a note of thanks

 Send a note of thanks

A simple note of thanks — whether digital or handwritten — is still one of the most popular and valued employee rewards. 85 per cent of professionals want to be thanked on a daily basis. Whether it’s for a job well done, volunteering, going the extra mile, staying late, or being a team player, a simple note of thanks demonstrates a personal touch and can be very meaningful.

Make sure the note of appreciation is well-written, sincere, and follows a few simple guidelines:

  • Be specific about the accomplishment or effort
  • Mention the effect it had on you as an individual or the organization as a whole
  • Clearly express your gratitude and recognize special efforts

12. Look to examples of successful recognition programs

Look to examples of successful recognition programs

Whether you are looking to launch a new employee recognition program or replace a legacy platform, it’s always helpful to look at the experiences of others to learn what has been successful. Take a look at how Discover, Kellogg’s, and Olympus all created recognition programs that delivered results.

While these three organizations are quite different, they all found that the most effective way to build a recognition program was by using a modern digital platform. Their experiences show that when a platform is accessible and easy to use, adoption rates and business results continue to improve long after the initial launch because team members make recognition part of their regular work habits.

Rounding it all up

When reading through the employee recognition ideas above, you’ll notice that there are a few core principles that unite them. Recognition should be frequent, include both social and monetary components, reflect behaviour you want to cultivate, and be made as easy as possible for all team members to practice, regardless of location or technical sophistication. 


Shivani is a content writer at InviteReferrals. She writes SEO articles, blogs, and guest posts for businesses to improve website ranking on SERP. She follows a balanced approach for the quality of content and its marketing. She loves to do creativity, although she had an English major in her graduation.